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Aggressive Cat

Casey Prather was already a crucial piece of Perth Wildcats' championship puzzle last season but he has gone to another level this season and it's his aggressive at both ends that is the key. Prather arrived at the Wildcats last season in his first taste of playing overseas having graduated from the University of Florida and then playing in the NBA D-League. By the end of the season, he won the club's MVP award and had played a significant part in the Wildcats' record extending seventh NBL championship. He again gave making an NBA roster a shot in the off-season, but when that didn’t eventuate was happy to return to Perth and has come back ready to go to another level. Physically Prather looks significantly bigger and stronger, but his game looks to have gone the same way with him becoming a dominant figure at both ends of the floor. He was unstoppable again for much of Friday night in the Grand Final rematch scoring a career-high 29 points in the 75-73 win over the New Zealand Breakers. He clearly made it a point to be more aggressive moving to the basket and with his combination of power, speed, athleticism and touch, there is nobody in the league who can stop him. That worked a treat as he was a dominant offensive presence but it was his defensive performance to start the fourth quarter that might have had an even greater impact. With New Zealand leading by four, Prather smelled blood in the water with young Breakers point guard Isaiah Tueta was giving Ben Woodside a breather. Prather got right up in his grill and stole the ball twice on back-to-back plays. The result was four points with the Wildcats picking up the momentum and going on to win by two. It was an example that Prather was trying to set for the rest of his team to start the fourth quarter having given up the advantage in the third. "I was just trying to build the intensity for our team. I knew if they saw me up in the front doing that they would be able to do it behind me as well," Prather said. "That's just that trust we have as a team and I was trying to do anything I could to help us get the lead back." His coach Trevor Gleeson was especially pleased with the way that Prather picked his moments offensively showing his further growth and maturity. "I thought he forced it a bit much in the first quarter and we just had a couple of words at quarter-time," Gleeson said. "Then he picked his moments really well and used his explosiveness, and speed to attack the basket hard. He played through a lot of contact up there as well but he certainly led from the front." It was all a learning and feeling out process for Prather last season in Perth, but now that he knew what to expect from the NBL he has returned ready and able to take over games just like he showed on Friday night against the Breakers. He certainly gets spurred on also by having nearly 13,000 fans embrace him at Perth Arena so warmly with only captain Damian Martin getting a louder response. "For me personally it's all about getting better and growing. I came here last year wanting to test myself and find out what I was capable of, so I learned a lot about the league and myself," Prather said. "We got the taste of winning that championship and now I want to do everything I can to try and help us do that again. "It's unbelievable the Red Army here, it's just amazing. I feel like we have the best arena in the league here and to have that many supporting me is an amazing feeling. It makes me want to give them more and more to cheer about."    
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